You are probably wandering what potholes and cracked phone screens have in common. They are both imperfections and are very much in your face. Once I noticed one pothole in my road, the others just became visible and every time I left my house they taunted me. I was forced to endure a cracked phone for a month and was a true test of my evolution as a recovering perfectionist.
The general definition by WIKI is “Perfectionists strain compulsively and unceasingly toward unobtainable goals, and measure their self-worth by productivity and accomplishment. Pressuring oneself to achieve unrealistic goals inevitably sets the person up for disappointment. Perfectionists tend to be harsh critics of themselves when they fail to meet their standards.”
I started my journey first as an angry mom looking for a means to reconnect with herself and her children. When I stumbled across Conscious Parenting, I was forced to look at aspects of my life which blocked my joy and ignited my anger. I became aware of my perfectionist tendencies but thought I had it under control until last year when my phone screen cracked.
According to Celeste Chua , these are the 10 Ways To Tell If You Are A Perfectionist :
- You are highly conscious and hyper-critical of mistakes.
- You aim to be the best in everything you do, even if its something that you are not interested in.
- You spend copious amount of time to perfect something even at the expense of your well being.
- You set absolute ideals. There is only black and white, no grey.
- You are your harshest critic. You beat yourself up over the smallest thing that goes wrong.
- You mull over outcomes if they did not turn out as envisioned.
- You are defensive towards criticism and have a fear of failure because they suggest imperfection.
- You only care about achieving the end goal, paying no attention to the journey.
- You have an all-or-nothing approach.
- You are conscious of any situation which might give others the perception that you are not perfect.
What does this mean to you as a parent?
1. You are never happy when your children do their best, this causes them to either stop trying. This in turn impacts on their self esteem and belief that they are unworthy of love.
2. We know we love them, we may even say we love them but our behaviour and actions as perfectionist parents contradict this.
3. We need them to see mistakes as part of being human and its what we do afterward that makes the difference. Mistakes + Learning = GROWTH
4. We must believe in their abilities especially when they doubt themselves, you cannot do this while holding out for a perfect child.
5. Spend time with them, this makes all the difference. There is no perfect time, only the present.
6. Children need to be accepted and loved as they are, not when they behave better, excel in sport or academics. Unconditional love is not a myth or urban legend but the right of every child.
So where to now?
The road to recovery of course and its yours if you want it. It will not be easy and it will not be quick, but it is rewarding. Celeste Chua is a recovering Perfectionist and runs workshops helping others start the same journey and her website is called Personal Excellence and she lists these eight ways on How to Overcome Perfectionism :
- Be a healthy perfectionist (Commit to your goals but don’t let your failures define you)
- Remove the all-or-nothing mindset (Allow yourself to do things incompletely and imperfectly)
- Avoid the perfectionist’s mind trap (Don’t focus on unimportant information and requisites)
- Learn to respect and love yourself (You are the only constant in your world)
- Use your ideal as guides, not absolutes (Don’t attach yourself to them)
- Value your relationships (Allocate time for your relationships)
- Celebrate the victories and progress made (Every step is a job well done!)
- Delegate and let go (You don’t have to do everything yourself)
In conclusion, the cure for perfectionism starts with self forgiveness, self acceptance and ultimately self love. I know this sounds corny, but it is so true and some of us may need more help than others. If you lucky, reading a book on how to overcome perfectionism is the answer, for others it may require attending a workshop, and others may need counselling, life coaching or therapy as an added support. I look at my chipped crockery, my mismatched bathroom and towel set to remind myself daily of how much I have overcome. Are you ready to start your journey?